Press Releases

    5 September 2002


    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    JOHANNESBURG, 4 September -- The implementation plan, to be adopted by the Summit, recognized the preeminent role of agriculture in meeting the needs of the developing world and could inject "significant dynamism" into the sustainable development process, the Agriculture Minister of Morocco said today at the fourth and final Summit round table.

    The round tables, which began on Monday, were aimed at stimulating interactive debate at the highest levels of government on the theme "Making It Happen". Several heads of State and government participated in the series of meetings, as well as Ministers and directors of key United Nations agencies and businesses, and other major groups in the field. A free exchange of ideas at today's talks focused on needed strategies for success.

    Offering a best practice in his region, the Minister and Executive Secretary of Planning of Paraguay asserted that it would not be possible to sustain development if countries failed to integrate regionally. Strategic planning for the development of all of South America had identified "development corridors", which spanned the map of South America, without borders. Thus, a process had begun of integration in the spheres of infrastructure, transportation, energy and communications.

    Focusing also on innovative strategies, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize said his nation had evolved a way to secure a sustainable stream of financing -- every visitor to the country donated $3.75 to a protected areas trust fund, managed by private and public sectors. The money raised was then issued to communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with sustainable development issues and the protection of natural resources. He appealed to United Nations agency heads to coordinate their requests for country reports.

    The President of Cape Verde agreed with the need to streamline -- there were too many bodies dealing with the same issues. Thus, resources were being wasted. Rationalization could free resources and increase their efficient use. Cape Verde, an island country located off the coasts of Mauritania and Senegal, was suffering the effects of desertification and drought. Reversing that required better water and oceans management.

    Official development assistance (ODA) was of vital concern to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, its Director of Sustainable Development in the Planning and Reconstruction Ministry said. He said that the interest rates for repayment had plunged many African countries into total indebtedness. African countries were not on the receiving end -- $1 invested in an African country provided $3 for the funding countries. So, the interest rates scheme should be reviewed.

    The Environment Minister of Canada emphasized the private sector as a key player -- the source of internal revenue in the country in which it established itself. By demonstrating good governance and introducing interesting projects, a developing country might better able to attract the private sector. In terms of ODA, Canada would increase that to an amount equivalent to tripling its current rate growth.

    Indeed the Summit had sent clear signals for a new rationale for mobilizing more financial resources, Switzerland's Minister of State for Development said. Traditional development cooperation was not sufficient to tackle all of those global issues. Raising the funds meant winning public opinion and creating political alliances. He was concerned about the division that had developed within the "Group of 77" developing countries and China. Specifically, he worried that the least developed countries had not had an "adequate voice".

    The Planning Minister of Iraq said that financial resources had not gone to the world's most needy populations in unstable areas where war and insecurity reigned. Consequently, Iraq had been unable to realize the Summit's aims, except through direct assistance from the rich countries or the United Nations agencies. Ten years was a long time between earth summits. He recommended that regional groups of nations hold consultations on the issues every two years or so.

    As an organization comprised of the 30 most developed countries in the world, controlling the lion's share of the wealth and responsible for 90 per cent of the world's research and development, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) should be taking the lead in sustainable development, not only among its members, but globally, affirmed its Secretary General. Would it really take 13 years to halve the number of people without access to safe drinkable water? he asked. In that world of plenty, such issues were simply resource-based. The OECD, as well as multinational corporations, must play a leading role.

    Urging better coordination between United Nations agencies and other international agencies, such as the OECD and World Bank, the Director-General of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said international agencies should also improve coordination among themselves and work closely with funds and programmes. Traditionally, UNESCO had not cooperated closely with the business community; it was now concluding 12 "type 2" agreements as a result of the Summit.

    Farmer-to-farmer exchanges were also absolutely critical, asserted the President of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, when the talks turned to key groups. Tackling existing problems meant figuring out how agriculture did business in the future. Clearly, sustainable agriculture required engaging the individual farm families. Aid organizations should coordinate much more closely with farm organizations.

    Like the United States-based National Academy of Sciences, all governments should have authoritative, credible and independent scientific advice, the Executive Director of the Third World Academy of Science told delegates. In order to engage a "critical mass" of internationally recognized scientists, his organization had been identifying research groups in the South involved in the five priority areas of the Summit and had formed a network to exchange best practices and evolve joint initiatives, including in support of capacity-building in the least developed countries.

    Indigenous peoples were ensuring the sustainability of the earth's resources, so when partnerships were discussed "please bear in mind our right to be consulted", the National Assembly for the Autonomy of Indigenous Peoples' speaker said. Indigenous people were not poor; they had become gradually impoverished. He energetically appealed to the leaders to live up to their commitments. He called on them to ratify international instruments, which enshrined the rights of indigenous people, and to develop strategic polices to allow them to shape their futures and determine the way in which the resources on their territories were used and managed.

    Other heads of delegations on the list were: Barbados, Belarus, Belize, France, Libya, Niue, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Iraq, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.

    Additional specialized agencies on the list were: United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UN-Habitat), and United Nations University.

    On the list of intergovernmental organizations was also the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme.

    Major groups were: Women's Network for Sustainability; Youth; Assemblea Nacional de los Pueblos Indigenas por la Autonomia; Global Ecovillage Network; World Association of Cities and Local Authorities (WACLAS); Congress of South-African Trade Unions (COSATU); Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies; and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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